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Amid new legislation to improve board diversity, staffing firm ‘De Staffing Groep’ names all-male management team

With new legislation in place to improve board diversity, old boys’ clubs are no more in the Netherlands. Or so we thought: staffing firm The Staffing Group (De Staffing Groep) has just named an all-male management team.

Jasper Spanjaart on May 27, 2022 Average reading time: 3 min
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Amid new legislation to improve board diversity, staffing firm ‘De Staffing Groep’ names all-male management team

Every few years, Deloitte tracks progress made in increasing the number of women on corporate boards through their Deloitte Global Boardroom Program’s Women in the Boardroom report. The 2021 edition showed progress toward increasing the number of women on corporate boards. Albeit slow progress. As in: really slow. The worldwide average of women on boards now sits at 19.7%, an increase of just 2.8 percentage points since their last report stemming from 2019. “If this rate of change were to continue every two years, we could expect to reach a level approaching parity in 2045”, the report stated.

  “If this rate of change were to continue every two years, we could expect to reach a level approaching parity in 2045.”

To double-down on the progressive news, the presence of more women on boards doesn’t mean they are reaching leadership positions. According to Deloitte’s report, there are comparatively few female board chairs. That percentage 6.7% now, as compared to 5.3% to the 2019 research. Female CEOs are even rarer, at a 5% clip in 2021 compared to 4.4% in 2019. This reinforces the message that greater participation on boards is only a first step on a longer journey to reach positions of executive power and board leadership.

The state of board diversity in Europe

So what’s the situation like in Europe? Generally, better than in other areas of the world, according to Deloitte’s report. In 2021, on average, Europe saw 30.7% of its board seats held by women. Moreover, 6.7% of companies have CEO’s that are women. It’s been a subject that the European Commission has actively worked on for decades. But so far, only one country has met the 2012 target. France has been the sole European member state that has achieved the 2012 target. In 2021, its total percentage skyrocketed to 43.3%, up from 27.6% in 2014, when it was first measured.

The state of board diversity in Europe. Source: Deloitte

Board diversity has been a subject that the European Commission has actively worked on for decades. But so far, only one country has met the 2012 target.

The proposed 2012 Women on Boards directive, which was aimed at furthering diversity on the boards of listed companies throughout the European Union, included the following a target of 40% representation of each gender for non-executive boards of listed companies. By 2020, seven EU countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, and Greece) had mandatory national quotas for the underrepresented sex for listed companies. Nine (Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Finland, and Sweden) still favoured a softer approach. The remaining 11 member states did not take any significant action.

Female-led companies outperform those that aren’t

When women are present in the boardroom, better business decisions follow. That’s what a report by leading diversity specialists The Pipeline shows. Out of the 350 largest firms listed in the London Stock Exchange (FTSE), just 14 were led by females, according to the research. But what is perhaps more interesting: those 14 companies hugely outperformed (15.2% net profit) companies with no women on their executive committees (1.5% net profit).

Image by Jay Allen. Photo: Crown Copyright

“Every single male CEO who looks around his boardroom table to see nine out of 10 male faces staring back at him needs to ask himself what he is doing to make his business one which his daughter or granddaughter can get on in.”

“The Women Count 2020 report shows the stark difference in net profit margins of companies that have diverse gender leaderships compared to those who do not”, The Pipeline’s Lorna Fitzsimons said. Even former Prime Minister Theresa May weighed in on the issue. “Every single male CEO who looks around his boardroom table to see nine out of 10 male faces staring back at him needs to ask himself what he is doing to make his business one which his daughter or granddaughter can get on in”, she wrote.

Netherlands is shifting its stance

While the Netherlands technically belonged to those taking a softer approach, new legislation came into force on the 1st of January 2022. It sets the bar at one-third (33.3%) of seats to be held by men or women. Moreover, it would become mandatory for large public and private limited liability companies to set appropriate and ambitious target ratios to improve the gender diversity on the board. And among their senior management personnel.

Dutch Minister for Emancipation: “With this legislation, we put an end to the ‘old boys’ club’ culture in boardroom appointments.”

“With this historic step, we are ensuring much more equal opportunities for women and men on corporate boards in the Netherlands”, said Ingrid van Engelshoven, the former Dutch Minister for Emancipation. “With the legislation, we put an end to the ‘old boys’ club’ culture in boardroom appointments. That is good news for equality of opportunity and for the companies themselves. Because diversity in the boardroom ensures better management.”

Setting the bar at 0%

Despite new legislation, and seemingly overall willingness from the branche to improve gender diversity, Netherlands-based staffing firm The Staffing Group (De Staffing Groep) has named an all-male management team. The team consists of CEO Gert-Jan Schellingerhout, CFO Marc Nijhuis, Operations Director Pascal van der Hart and MSP Director Wouter Waaijenberg. The change of management follows a changed shareholder structure, which, according to the group, aims to make The Staffing Group a ‘top three player’ in the Dutch staffing market.

The Staffing Group responded through e-mail, stating the company is ‘completely aware’ of the current zeitgeist.

When asked: where is the diversity? The Staffing Group responded through e-mail, stating the company is ‘completely aware’ of the current zeitgeist. “From the fact that society is developing with regard to diversity, gender equality and inclusiveness. And that we play a strong role in this from the HR and recruitment world. A role that does not only stop at gender, but also not at national borders. We look at the labour market as a whole: permanent/flex, male/female and regardless of nationality.”

“The ratio of men and women is an aspect that will eventually be taken into account.”

However, the company doesn’t appear to use that mantra for the selection of its own management team. “We are very pleased with the most recent acquisition of our parent organisation Axiom Partners: FixedToday. Where the management team is characterised by 2 women and 1 man”, the company added through e-mail. “However, the ratio of men and women is an aspect that will eventually be taken into account.”

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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